Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD), which is caused by Cassava brown streak
virus and Ugandan brown streak virus, interferes with successful cassava
propagation in East and Central Africa. The disease is mediated by the
interaction of these viruses with the viral genome-linked protein (VPg) and
host eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (elF4E) isoforms of
Scientist Michael Gomez from the University of California, Berkeley and
colleagues aim to contribute in alleviating this problem by targeting novel
cap-binding proteins (nCBP-1 and nCBP-2) for CRISPR-Cas9 -mediated editing.
These proteins are among the elF4E isoforms involved in the onset of CBSD.
They observed delayed and attenuated CBSD aerial symptoms and reduced
severity and incidence of root necrosis, which is one of CBSV infection
symptoms, in the CRISPR mutants. CRISPR-Cas9 proved to be an effective tool
in promoting disease tolerance in cassava. The researchers aim to study the
effect of other remaining elF4E isoforms on CBSD to further design a cassava
disease tolerance strategy.